Doug LeClair (Small).jpgDoug wishes to first thank his friends and colleagues who nominated him for this honor, the Hall of Fame selection committee, and his supporters who helped with the promotion of his induction, especially Dave Black of the WWF and good friends and fellow coaches Kevin Anderson and Steve King. His special thanks goes out to his beloved wife of 39 years, Becky, who has been at his side throughout his 45 year journey in wrestling. From high school days, to the Hall of Fame, she has ben his biggest fan, his best friend and the love of his life.
Doug’s wrestling journey began in 1968 as a ninth grader at Medford High School. As a high school athlete, he earned 10 varsity letters, including three in wrestling and two individual conference championships as well as being part of a team championship his junior year. As a senior, Doug was team captain in football, wrestling and tennis and was first team All-Conference in football and wrestling.
Doug chose UW La Crosse after high school and played football and wrestled for the then “Indians.” After his sophomore year, Doug and Becky married and he focused on work and school, but did stay with his passion for wrestling. He earned three letters and was twice a NAIA national qualifier, but his senior year he was bitten by the coaching bug and gave up his last year of eligibility to be an assistant football and head wrestling coach at La Crosse Logan High School. This would be the first of three times that Doug would be named head wrestling coach at Logan. While in college, Doug also ursued some unique academic interests and was involved in campus debate, acted in two theater productions, and was part of a nationally recognized Topical Group Discussion group.
After graduating with honors from UW La Crosse with teaching degrees in Speech, English and Theater, Doug accepted teaching and coaching positions at Waterford Union High School. In his seven years at Waterford, Doug worked with head coach Ross Gettrust, and they built teams that could contend and win in the competitive Southern Lakes Conference and challenge programs headed by Hall of Famers like Jerry Bahr and John Stockowitz. During his years at Waterford, Doug established the Southeast Wisconsin Freestyle wrestling club and that club was fertile ground helping to produce strong Waterford teams and many state caliber wrestlers in the area. Outstanding brother combinations was a marquee feature of the club with talented combos like the Gettruust, Keys, Jazwowski, and Semrad brothers.
In 1985, Doug had the opportunity to move back to La Crosse and take a teaching position at Logan High School. He assisted in football and wrestling and two years later was again named head coach for Logan wrestling. For the next 12 years, he taught and coached at Logan before going into administration in 1997. During that era, he guided his Rangers to their first ever Big Rivers Conference Tournament title and coached a string of state caliber wrestlers. Doug also enjoyed the special bond of being able to coach his oldest son Josh in football and wrestling and was a supportive fan for Josh and his daughter Hannah who were competitors at the state level in track and field. While in administration, he stayed close to the sport and, as a volunteer coach, he was able to share in the joy of his youngest son Zach’s WIAA Division 1 State Title at #189 in 1998. Doug was also active in his community promoting wrestling and providing learning opportunities. He established the La Crosse Elite wrestling program for aspiring folkstyle, freestyle and Greco candidates and served as a volunteer youth wrestling coach at the local Boys and Girls Club, twice being named Volunteer Coach of the Year. During this time, Doug did not fail to also dedicate himself to his administrative duties. In addition to being an Associate Principal, Doug became the District’s Safety Coordinator and headed the District Safety Committee and was instrumental in implementing significant changes in the District’s plans in response to the wave of school violence seen in that era. Doug also played a major role in the development and growth of Logan’s first charter school within a school for at-risk youth. In 2007, Doug was named Administrator of the Year for Wisconsin by the Association of School Counselors.
Doug’s passion for coaching also lead him into the coaching ranks of the WWF and for 12 years, he was a staple on the Cadet Greco National Team coaching staff. With coaching colleagues like Eric Lehrke and Scott Arneson, they enjoyed more than a decade of top five finishes at the national tournament, with dozens of All Americans and several National Champs. Doug also was again able to enjoy the special father son bond through wrestling as he was able to coach his youngest son Zach and see him earn All American status in Greco in 1995 and go double in 1996, earning All American in Greco and Freestyle. In this exciting era, Doug had the privilege to work with future Olympians like Garret Lowney, Ben Askren and Ben Provisor.
In keeping with his passion for the sport of wrestling, Doug found other avenues to be engaged with the sport. In 2007, he had the unique opportunity to be cast in a leading role in an independent film called “7 Minutes” (the length of a college wrestling match). This feature length film told the story of a division one college wrestling coach who wa struggling to hold his team together as they battled with internal strife and were the potential victims of a looming Title IV program cut. Doug has also served his follow coaches as a WWCA District Representative and with his involvement in the George Martin Hal of Fame Banquet as the emcee for nearly 15 years.
In 2011, Doug retired from education, but as fate would have it, the head wrestling position at Logan has once again come his way. According to Doug, he still has the energy and passion that fueled him the first time he took the job in 1977. I guess it is fair to say this story is not over yet.